The signature play of McMichael’s career came in a miraculous 1991 Monday night win over the New York Jets at Soldier Field. With the Bears trailing 13-6 and out of timeouts, McMichael forced and recovered a Blair Thomas fumble with 1:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Bears tied the game on Jim Harbaugh’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Neal Anderson as time expired in regulation and won it on Harbaugh’s 1-yard TD run in overtime.
McMichael was unable to attend Thursday night’s Hall of Fame announcement in Las Vegas and was represented by his wife, Misty. Sadly, he revealed in April 2021 that he’s suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The neurodegenerative neuromuscular disease results in the progressive loss of motor neurons that control voluntary muscles which are responsible for chewing food, speaking and walking.
Since becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2022, Hester was named one of 15 Modern Era finalists each of the last three years.
Hester, 41, played eight of his 11 NFL seasons with the Bears. The most prolific return specialist in league history, he holds NFL records with 19 kick-return touchdowns, 14 punt-return TDs and 20 return touchdowns, which includes punts, kickoffs, missed field goals, fumbles and interceptions.
Hester is the first NFL player who was predominantly a return specialist to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
“Devin revolutionized the game,” McCaskey said. “No one had seen anything like him, and there hasn’t been anyone like him since. He had opposing head coaches telling their special teams coordinators ‘don’t kick to that guy’ and they suffered the consequences when the message didn’t get through. We’re delighted that the Hall has recognized Devin’s special talents.”
Selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2006 draft out of Miami, Hester was voted to three Pro Bowls, won 13 special teams player of the week awards and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.
Hester set an NFL single-season record with five kick return touchdowns as a rookie in 2006 and then eclipsed the mark with six TDs in 2007.
As a rookie, Hester returned a punt 84 yards for a TD in his first NFL game in a 26-0 rout of the Packers; lifted the Bears to a stunning 24-23 comeback victory over the Cardinals with a late 83-yard punt return TD; returned a missed field goal 108 yards for a TD in a win over the Giants; and set a single-game franchise record with 225 kickoff return yards in a victory over the Rams, including TDs of 94 and 96 yards.
Hester then capped his remarkable rookie season by becoming the first player in NFL history to return the opening kickoff of a Super Bowl for a touchdown, dashing 92 yards in an eventual 29-17 loss to the Colts.
In 2007, Hester returned four punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns. In a 37-34 overtime win over the Broncos, he scored TDs on a 75-yard punt return and 88-yard kickoff return.
Hester returned three punts for scores in 2010, two punts and one kickoff for TDs in 2011 and one punt for a touchdown in 2013. He remains the Bears’ all-time leader in punt return yards (3,241), kickoff return yards (5,504), total kick return yards (8,745), punt returns (264) and kickoff returns (222).
First appeared on www.chicagobears.com